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Panthers host Mendenhall in 1st round

Brookhaven’s march to the Class 4A state championship beginsFriday night when the Panthers host Mendenhall in the opening roundof the state playoffs. Kickoff is 7 p.m. on King Field.

Ole Brook head coach Tucker Peavey stresses that Mendenhall(3-7) can’t be overlooked by his Panthers (9-1) who are ranked No.7 in The latest Associated Press Prep Poll and riding an 8-gamevictory string.

“Mendenhall is a very athletic team with speed on both sides ofthe football,” said Peavey. “They have the total package ondefense, size and speed. They don’t look like a 3-7 team.”

Peavey’s Panthers are fresh from a 40-0 triumph over LawrenceCounty. They were directed by quarterback Jimmy Johns who passedfor 106 yards and 2 touchdowns. Johns threw scoring tosses of 8yards to Taurean Jones and 26 yards to Montral Smith.

Ole Brook also got 2 touchdown runs from Charles Wilson and 1 TDfrom backup quarterback Brandt Hinton. Will Thibodeaux kicked a35-yard field goal.

On defense, linebacker Darius Perkins led the Panthers with 9tackles, including 4 solo stops. Virgil Sanders and Varris Keesboth had 7 tackles. Marlon Dixon and Anthony Caffie had 5 tackles.R.J. Jenkins intercepted 2 passes as the Panthers limited theCougars to just 59 yards total offense.

Peavey said team honors went to Jenkins on defense, Caffie onspecial teams and Jones on offense.

According to Peavey, Mendenhall’s 12-0 loss to No. 2-rankedWayne County (10-0) caught his attention. “They held Wayne Countyto no offensive touchdowns.”

The Brookhaven-Mendenhall winner will play the winner of theGautier-South Jones game Nov. 12 in the second round. Other South4A playoff games tomorrow night have Lawrence County at WayneCounty, Northeast Jones at South Pike, Pearl River Central at St.Stanislaus, Terry at West Jones, Bay St. Louis at George County andVancleave at Laurel.

Mendenhall Excited

“We are just happy to be playing football,” said Mendenhall headcoach Chris Peterson. His Tigers are the No. 4 seed out of Region5.

Peterson is in his second year as head coach. He moved fromOkolona after four years as head coach. He is a Louisvillenative.

Peterson said he has a young team and only six seniors start forMendenhall.

Quarterback Bertrell Easterling (5-9, 165, soph.), runs theoption. The starting tailback is Kentrell Cleveland (5-9, 175,jr.), and the fullback is Willie Bass (5-11, 185, soph.).

Marcus Winn (5-9, 165, jr.) and Jarrod Skiffer (5-9, 170, jr.)are the wide receivers.

On defense, linebacker Alex Williams (6-0, 210, sr.) leads theteam in tackles.

Toby Lewis punts for Mendenhall. Kyle Norris kicks off andplacekicks.

The Tigers beat Northeast Lauderdale 33-20 two weeks ago andtriumphed 17-7 over Quitman on Oct. 8 and 42-13 over Florence Oct.1. They lost 44-13 to Madison Central in their season opener andfell 15-0 to Lawrence County in the second game. The also lost toPearl 32-22, West Jones 34-16, Northeast Jones 20-7, Wayne County12-0 and Magee 23-20.

The Tigers lost a close 23-20 decision to Simpson County rivalMagee last week.

Peterson gave the Panthers rave reviews after watching them ongame film. Johns and defensive tackle Jessie Bowman receivedspecial praise.

“Brookhaven is amazing and Johns is outstanding,” said Peterson.”Bowman is unbelievable. He’s impossible to block.

“No. 84 (Bud Chatman) makes a lot of big plays for them onoffense and defense,” said Peterson. “I hope we can keep the scoreclose.”

Panther Paws: Brookhaven hasn’t playedMendenhall since the 2002 season when the Tigers prevailed 21-7 atMendenhall. In 2001, the Panthers edged Mendenhall 27-20.